Our ServicesIndividual, Group & Family Based Treatment
Collective Health Co
Collective Health Co provides a wide range of psychological services for children, adolescents, adults and families.
With an interest in both short and long term therapies, our psychologists provide treatment for a wide range of presentations including, but not limited to:
- Eating Disorders, Body Image Issues & Weight Concerns including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa & Binge Eating Disorder
- Depression and other Mood Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Stress or Trauma Disorders
- Adjustment Disorders
- Childhood and Adolescent Difficulties
- Parenting Issues
- Life Transitions
- Attachment Difficulties with Parenting Issues
- Work Cover
- Relationship Counselling
Our psychologists work alongside dietitians and a psychiatrist in order to provide access to all your treating team in the one place. We also have a close working relationship with multiple practitioners on the Sunshine Coast to ensure a team approach. In consultation with clients we are also able to liaise with other practitioners involved in your care.
The Most Common Types of Disorders We See
Whilst there are many different types of mental health conditions and life stressors, below we have explained a few that we regularly see at Collective Health Co.
What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is characterised by a changed behavioural pattern in relation to food and eating. The main subset of eating disorders that we treat at the clinic are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder. These are the disorders that most people are aware of and are characterised by an over-evaluation of their shape, weight and size, however we’d like to point out that this is not about vanity, rather significant distress that is caused by an often a distorted self image. This causes the individual to engage in behaviours that trigger strict control over their physical attributes including restricting their food intake and possibly purging by self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise or laxative use.
Due to the nature of how the body works, binge eating can also be a part of all eating disorders, as food restriction regularly leads to episodes of eating larger volumes of food than what the eating disorder would deem appropriate, or what another person might deem a normal amount of food. An individual can also feel a loss of control over their intake which can be very frightening. The good news is that this can resolve quickly with treatment.
Eating disorders also carry with them many other symptoms such as periods of depression, anxiety, perfectionism and even obsessive compulsive disorder traits. We can see all of these symptoms appear purely out of starvation which is often resolved when adequate and regular nutrition is restored. It is for this reason that we don’t typically diagnose individuals with other disorders whilst starvation syndrome is present. Once nutrition is restored than the person may also need treatment for other concerns however treatment of the eating disorder is our primary focus.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is similar to anorexia nervosa, in that it limits the amount and types of foods consumed however it does not feature body image concerns. It typically occurs due to an aversion to certain tastes or textures, trauma related to food consumption or a low appetite that fails to stimulate eating. This disorder is regularly seen but not exclusively in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other development disorders.
PICA and rumination disorders feature less in the eating disorder population. PICA occurs where an individual consumes non food related items, however this is often due to anaemia or other mineral deficiencies. It is believed that if these deficiencies are corrected, then most of these symptoms resolve. Rumination disorder occurs when an individual regurgitates food and either swallows, chews or spits the food out. This is mostly seen in children.
What is an anxiety disorder?
When we are talking about anxiety, the first thing we have to point out is that it is normal to have a certain level of anxiety as a human being. We have needed anxiety throughout evolution to help us assess risk, stay safe and respond to danger. It is normal to get anxious when giving a presentation because we’re at risk of judgment or criticism and it’s normal to feel anxious when starting school or a job for the first time because it’s new and we don’t know what to expect. However, when anxiety starts to stop someone from doing normal daily activities such as going to the shops or attending school or work, and starts to get in the way of life, then there may be a more significant problem that requires a little help. There are many types of anxiety disorders all with different symptoms which basically means that in each disorder anxiety manifests itself differently.
In generalised anxiety disorder anxiety seems to latch onto a lot of things. The person might be anxious about their children going to school, as well as the finances, their health, in addition to their study, and the list goes on and on. There may be some things that anxiety doesn’t touch, but the presentation of symptoms will be different to each individual.
Social anxiety, which used to be known as social phobia is kind of given away by the title. People with this anxiety disorder get very anxious about social situations where they have to interact with other people who may judge them or criticise them. Social anxiety tells people that social situations aren’t safe and that they will likely mess it up, whatever ‘it’ is. It causes them to imagine that terrible things will happen which are out of proportion to reality.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not just about liking things neat and tidy, if it was I’m sure people with OCD would be much happier. This occurs when individuals experience repetitive thoughts which can lead to repetitive behavioural patterns. Individuals with these concerns may believe that by engaging in a particular behaviour they can manage the anxiety which manifests as intrusive repetitive thoughts. People with this disorder can spend many hours a day engaging in rituals just to be able to live or be preoccupied with intrusive thoughts. It can take up a lot of time and emotional energy just to get through each day due to excessive cleaning, counting and securing.
Panic attacks are regularly a feature of a lot of anxiety disorders and can sometimes lead to Panic Disorder. This is the regular occurrence of intense and overwhelming feelings of anxiety which triggers physical symptoms such a shortness of breath, dizziness and perspiration. They can feel out of control as panic attacks almost seem to come from nowhere and can make living a normal life very scary. However, once again this is very treatable symptom or condition with interventions from a therapist.
What is depression?
Like with anxiety, having a depressed mood is different to clinical depression. You may hear people say ‘I feel depressed’ and if this is a fleeting hour, day or couple of days, then it isn’t the clinical depression we’re talking about here. It is normal to feel down, low or flat for a period of time, but when this goes on consistently everyday for a minimum of two weeks then we are entering the realm of a clinical diagnosis. As a side note, if you are experiencing grief then this is different altogether
Clinical depression, or what we refer to as a Major Depressive Disorder is characterised by a persistent low mood with additional changes in behaviour and thinking. Other symptoms may include a lack of enjoyment in the types of activities one used to enjoy, changes to sleep and appetite and trouble concentrating and remembering things. It’s also common that individuals experience increased negative thinking, such as feeling worthless, not good enough, and that possibly people would be better off without them. Whilst suicidal thinking can be part of all mental disorders, it’s particularly common with depression. It’s not something to be embarrassed or shy about, it’s a red flag to say ‘Get some help’ and with treatment it can get better.
What is trauma?
Well this is a great big question in the field of psychology but at it’s essence, trauma is a ‘deeply distressing or disturbing event’. Everyone will experience traumatic situations in their lives, but depending on the person some people will go on to develop Acute Distress Disorder (ADD) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The main difference between these two categories is the amount of time after the incident, with ADD being within a month of an event. Symptoms that can be signs of ADD can include flashbacks, feeling on edge, avoiding people or places that might retrigger memories or thoughts, feeling detached from reality, low mood and believing the world is suddenly unsafe.
ADD can then develop into PTSD when these symptoms begin to occur for over a month. Not everyone that experiences a traumatic event will go on to develop a traumatic stress response. Some people may experience post traumatic growth which is a whole other topic.
In the field of trauma there is also a term known as Complex trauma which occurs when an individual experiences repeated traumas throughout their life that typically begin in childhood. It refers to the effects of long term exposure to trauma that impacts on development, a person’s sense of self and how they view the world. There is a significant overlap between personality disorders and complex traumas.
What are personality disorders?
Personality disorders are a class of disorders which see an effect on an individual’s thoughts and behaviours and impact on the way they function within relationships and the world around them. Most people’s personalities develop over time. They adapt and change depending on circumstances and learnings, however people with personality disorders often find it more difficult to respond flexibly. They rely on rigid control and unhelpful ways of responding to situations that they have learnt in response to situations in childhood. This is not the fault of the individual. All of these unhelpful coping styles have developed in response to stressful situations that are not designed for a child’s brain to manage, however as an adult they are no longer helpful. Therapy honours those old coping strategies and supports the learning of new skills and responses.
There are many different types of personality disorders which vary in their symptoms and ways of responding. You can speak with your psychologist more if you feel this is relevant to you.
Collective Health Co is deeply passionate about psychological therapy and has been trained in a variety of interventions including:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
Maudsley Family Based Treatment (MFBT)
Attachment Family Based Treatment (ABFT)
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
Compassion Focused Therapy
Specialist Supportive Clinical Management
Adolescent Focused Psychotherapy
We are also able to provide services through Work Cover, Department of Veterans affairs and other third parties.
Dietetic Areas of Interest
- Eating disorders; including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED) and Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
- Nutrition for mental health; including optimisation of diet for mental wellbeing, as well as managing associated metabolic conditions including diabetes, high cholesterol and more
- Women’s health; including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometriosis, as well as Maternity and Paediatric Nutrition
- Health at Every Size and The Non-Diet Approach
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Allergy & Intolerance
- Sports Nutrition
Psychological Treatments Explained
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT was developed in the 60s by Dr Aaron Beck and is known as the gold standard treatment of choice for numerous mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, trauma and adult eating disorders. It has been rigorously tested with most mental health conditions and has shown very good outcomes. It is a method of therapy that most psychologists are trained in throughout their studies, so will likely be used in your sessions.
CBT spends a significant amount of time providing education and knowledge to clients about their disorder and how their illness or difficulties function. It addresses the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviours with the goal of creating positive change. By focusing on unhelpful thinking styles and changes one’s behaviour, CBT helps people to challenge negative thinking in order to improve their mood. It encourages people to really test out their way of thinking to see, if in fact, there is any truth or if it is a distorted view of the mind.
CBT for Eating Disorders
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is a third wave CBT intervention, which simply means that it uses some of CBT’s principles but actually uses more mindfulness based strategies to produce positive change. ACT encourages psychological flexibility, both within our emotional states and our thinking. It teaches strategies such as mindfulness, which helps us to diffuse or separate from unhelpful thoughts and to create space within the body for intense emotions. It encourages people to not avoid, suppress or push away thoughts or feelings, rather to be curious and investigate them. It draws a lot from Buddhist psychology and philosophy which have shown very positive outcomes in neuroscience research.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
IPT has shown some particularly promising outcomes for treatment of mood disorders such as depression and eating disorders. It’s main focus is to change a person’s social situations to improve their life circumstances. IPT places emphasis on three specific areas which it believes are common triggers for difficulties which include grief and loss, interpersonal relationships and life transitions. IPT believes that when these issues are resolved it enhances a person’s ability to connect socially and therefore can improve circumstances and symptoms.
Maudsley Family Based Treatment (MFBT)
MFBT is the gold standard treatment for young people with eating disorders. Whilst studies vary in their recovery rates at 5 year follow ups from 35-60%, multiple studies are being conducted to look at how to improve outcomes for young people long term. MFBT invites the whole family, including siblings, into treatment and encourages the parents to take charge of refeeding with the support of the therapist.
Once parents are adequately able to help their child in the process of refeeding and recovery, independence is slowly handed back to the young person who is then taught to eat without the eating disorder getting in the way. Once this is achieved, focus is then turned to other aspects of the young person’s mental health, such as other existing disorders, as well as normal developmental ad family concerns.
Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT)
ABFT is a model which originated in the USA for suicidal and depressed teens. It focuses on improving the relationship between the young person and their primary caregiver which has previously been affected by ‘attachment ruptures’. These are events that have occurred in the context of the relationship which have affected the young person’s ability to go to their caregiver to have their needs met. This requires an open dialogue, supported by the therapist to improve communication within therapy, with the goal of this being transferred outside of the therapy room.
Dialetic Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan who later in life disclosed her own struggles with borderline personality disorder. She reports being diagnosed in a generation where there was very little hope for recovery from this very challenging disorder. She embarked on a journey of self healing and developed DBT as a treatment for herself and later for other people with BPD. DBT is a very detailed and intricate model that requires a lot of dedication and practice by the client. It teaches skills for distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal skills and mindfulness. It’s our personal belief that everyone can benefit from learning DBT skills. It’s not just a skill but a way of life as it also is heavily influenced by Buddhist philosophy.
Schema therapy was developed by Dr Jeffrey Young after he identified that traditional CBT was inadequate for individuals with more complex needs and conditions. He developed 18 schemas which help us to understand the core psychological wounds that can occur in response to events in childhood. By understanding these schemas and ‘unmet needs’, Dr Young felt that individuals would be able to identify these schemas and then develop strategies to heal them. Schema therapy has grown and developed since its original conception and is a more fluid therapy which requires the client to be willing to take a journey with the therapist and to communicate with the childhood versions or themselves that need nurturance and support.
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (PP)
PP is one of the oldest forms of therapy and is often associated to Sigmund Freud, who is known as the grandfather of psychology. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is an insight oriented therapy with the goal of supporting clients in understanding the orgins of their problems, how they may have developed and how they are effecting their current functioning. By using interactions within the therapeutic relationship, clients are able to make discoveries about themselves with the support of the therapist.
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
CFT was developed by Dr Paul Gilbert in response to clients who he saw weren’t responding to more traditional therapies. He observed the high level of internal criticism that these clients presented with and felt that this was the gateway to improving their symptoms. It draws upon multiple different types of therapies but is mostly rooted in evolutionary theories and neuroscience. ‘CFT suggests that our evolved brain is therefore potentially problematic because of its basic ‘design,’ being easily triggered into destructive behaviours and mental health problems (called ‘tricky brain’)’ (Gilbert, 2014). Therefore by mindfully learning about and acknowledging this ‘tricky brain’ we are then able to use compassion based strategies which are drawn from Buddhist philosophies to manage these thoughts and emotions.
Specialist Supportive Clinical Management
SSCM was developed as an alternative therapy in a research study to cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy. It just so happened that SSCM performed just as well as those other therapies that had been shown to have good efficacy in treating eating disorders. Since this time, there have been more studies which have shown the benefits of SSCM as an alternate to other therapies.
It is a therapy which combines clinical management that addresses aspects of eating disorder related behaviours such as resuming normal eating and required weight restoration, along with additions to therapy that are dictated by the client. This therapy creates more of a space for clients to also discuss things in life outside of the eating disorder which may be affecting them.
Hi. What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR therapy is an effective and evidence-based psychological treatment that has been used worldwide for over 30 years.
It centres on the idea that many mental health issues are caused by our memories being stored in a way that is unnecessarily disturbing. These memories become stuck or frozen, and when we bring them to mind, they can still feel as disturbing as when the event happened, no matter how much time has passed. Sometimes these memories cause disturbance in our everyday life such as in PTSD and at other times we notice we are triggered by other events that bear some similarity to the original event(s).
A primary ingredient of EMDR therapy is bilateral stimulation, usually done by moving your eyes from side to side while thinking of a memory that you want relief from – this helps us to change the way that disturbing memories are stored. This is the “EMDR treatment” part of EMDR therapy. I know it sounds a bit confusing but read on and it will become clearer.
Ok – I’m curious…what does the “EMDR” bit stand for?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing.
What happens in an “EMDR treatment” session?
During a session of EMDR treatment, a specific problem (e.g., fear of flying) or memory (e.g., an accident) is identified as a focus for the treatment session. You then call to mind a disturbing event that represents this issue (e.g., a frightening plane trip), what is seen, felt, heard, thought, etc.
The therapist will then guide you to begin eye movements or other bilateral stimulation. These eye movements are used until the memory is no longer disturbing and is associated with a new positive belief (e.g., “I am safe now”, “I am in control now”, “I am worthwhile”, etc.) and a sense of calm.
The memory itself usually becomes more distant and less vivid (2 of the things that made it so disturbing in the first place). This new positive belief begins to flow into other areas of your life. The disturbance that was felt in the body also disappears.
Why are memories so important and why do we work with them?
Events in our life and the way we remember or think about them, are the reason many of us see a therapist. Sometimes we are fearful of things that are happening now, or things that may happen in the future, but these fears often relate to similar events from our past. When you and your therapist figure out which memories have caused the problems that are troubling you, you can work together to desensitise and reprocess the memories that still influence your life. This will help to change the way you feel, think and respond to life in the present.
Sometimes the memories are really obvious, like in PTSD, but sometimes we find events that have led to a faulty way of thinking, e.g., “I am not good enough” or “I am powerless” or “I am not safe”. These memories may be very old and they can lead to depression and anxiety related conditions.
What is the evidence and who says it works?
EMDR therapy is one of the most well researched and evidence based psychotherapeutic approaches for PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder.
Since 1989 over 30 controlled clinical studies have found EMDR therapy to effectively decrease or eliminate the symptoms of PTSD for the majority of clients.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) categorises EMDR as a Level 1 treatment for PTSD for young people and adults. This is the highest rating that can be applied to a specific therapeutic approach. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommends EMDR therapy for PTSD.
If you would like to look at some of the research on EMDR therapy, please look at the Francine Shapiro Library website https://emdria.omeka.net/
Is it only for PTSD?
No. The understanding of what trauma is, has been changing in recent years. We now understand trauma as any adverse life event that leaves a lasting effect on the psyche. For this reason, research and clinical practice has also successfully used EMDR therapy in the treatment of:
Can EMDR be helpful for all mental health problems?
If you have had any adverse life events, then EMDR therapy can be helpful. It does not mean that bilateral stimulation can solve all your problems, but it can be one of the things that helps. For example, it cannot teach you how to be more assertive. You may need to learn new skills for this. But if you learned to be non-assertive because of events in your life, you can reprocess these memories and then the assertiveness skills will be much easier to learn and you will feel more confident in using them.
What happens when someone goes to an EMDR therapist?
To start with, your therapist will ask you about what has brought you to therapy and find out the history of your presenting problems. They will work with you to establish how past events may be related to current triggers, or to negative beliefs that you may hold about yourself.
Before you start any eye movement, your therapist will do some other preparation work with you. This may take several sessions and will include making sure you can manage some distress during and in between sessions. This is because EMDR treatment can bring up very powerful emotions and body sensations and working with memories is often not easy work. In fact, sometimes we have spent much of our lives trying to push them away.
Once you and your therapist have decided together that you have the skills you will need for EMDR treatment and you have figured out which memories need to be reprocessed, EMDR treatment involving bilateral stimulation can begin and the memories can be reprocessed until you can recall the event and there is no disturbance. The process of alternating eye movements while you hold the memory in mind, allows unwanted or dysfunctional beliefs, emotions, thoughts and body sensations to disappear and be replaced by more adaptive information.
This process may be repeated with a number of disturbing events until you have achieved the changes you want.
How many sessions will I need?
One or more initial sessions will be used for the therapist to understand the nature of the problem and for you to decide (with the support of the therapist) whether EMDR therapy is right for you.
The type of problem, life circumstances and the amount of previous trauma in your life will then determine how many treatment sessions are necessary.
How do I know if EMDR is likely to work for me?
Talk to an EMDR therapist and they will do a thorough assessment and help you to determine the best treatment for you. If EMDR therapy is not recommended or desired, your therapist will discuss other treatment options. EMDR therapists are also trained in other therapies such as CBT, ACT, Mindfulness, etc., so if you don’t feel ready for working with memories but you want to keep working with your therapist, that is ok too.
How do I find an EMDR therapist?
The best way is to look up the EMDRAA website https://emdraa.org/ which is the Australian organisation responsible for accreditation standards in EMDR training. All therapists listed on this site have done specialist training in EMDR therapy and have undertaken supervision to make sure they are using EMDR treatment correctly and effectively.
EMDR therapists come from a variety of backgrounds including: Psychology, Social Work, Clinical Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Counselling, General Medicine and Psychiatry.
For more information on EMDR therapy you can click on this link to access video resources which will give you a greater explanation –https://emdraa.org/emdr-resources/
Adolescent Focused Psychotherapy
Adolescent Focused Psychotherapy (AFT) is an individual approach to the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa [originally published under the name Ego-Oriented Individual Therapy (EOIT); manual: Fitzpatrick, Moye, et al., 2010]. The core tenets of AFT are that AN behaviors serve to help the adolescent face or manage developmental challenges that they have not been able to resolve successfully with other tools. The goal, then, is to utilize the therapeutic relationship to leverage change, develop skills, enhance coping and engage in social and emotional exploration of the self. The course of treatment is roughly one year of outpatient therapy, which occurs in three phases.
During this phase the focus is on developing a strong relationship between the therapist and the adolescent.
Understanding the adolescent’s culture, community, thinking and social relationships are critical to understanding the role that AN plays in the adolescent’s life and to begin to identify the skills necessary to overcome the challenges of adolescence. The therapist develops an understanding of the role eating disorders play in areas of the adolescent’s life such as managing social relationships, how this impacts separation from parents or development of independence skills. The goal during this stage is not only developing a shared understanding of challenges and strengths but also to communicate the importance of weight gain and meal normalization to achieve physical recovery in additional to psychological recovery. While most meetings are with the adolescent alone, parent sessions (without the adolescent present) also occur to better understand family perspectives and work on developing some shared goals and understanding around AN. This is particularly important as family support is critical not just in overcoming illness behaviors but also in helping keep the adolescent on a more typical developmental trajectory in later treatment.
During this phase, the focus is on continued relationship and caring, although the emphasis shifts somewhat toward targeting specific areas of development that the adolescent and therapist have identified as critical to overcoming AN.
Examples of skills include helping adolescents manage their motivation, develop independence skills, negotiate different viewpoints, separate from their families, develop environments that are healthy for them (“niche picking”), and managing emotions. Furthering psychological development is critical during this time, and sessions move to every other week to allow the adolescent to practice new behaviors and learn new skills. Parent sessions continue, without the adolescent present, in order to continue to gather and share information relevant to supporting the adolescent. Focusing on continued weight gain and meal normalization are also critical with expectations of healthy eating and self-care behaviors underlying each session.
During this final phase, the therapist and the adolescent work together to develop skills for true independence:
- termination from therapy
- making plans for moving forward
- making sure that issues related to relapse prevention as well as coping with future challenges are secured.
The goals of this final stage of treatment are to help adolescents think about who they are becoming and helping them see the steps and challenges that they will face in the future, while making sure that eating disorder behaviors are not part of their future.
Payments & Rebate Information
Collecive Health Co is approved to provide rebates through Medicare and Private Health Insurers to reduce your out of pocket expense.
Rebate for the Medicare Chronic Conditions Management Plan or Better Access Program can only be provided if you bring a copy of the original care plan with you. This is available from your GP, Psychiatrist or Paediatrician.
Payment is required on the day of your session and can be made by cash, credit/debit card or eftpos. Please remember to bring your medicare care and private health fund card if you are a member of a health fund.
Making an Appointment
Practice Appointments & Cancellation Policy
Due to the demand for our services we require at least 48 hours notice for cancellation of appointments.
A cancellation fee may be charged for cancellations with less than 48 hours notice provided.
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Collective Health Co guarantees that your session will be conducted in a confidential, friendly and supportive environment to foster positive communication that promotes personal growth. We look forward to hearing from you.